Benedictus(i) (Lat.: ‘blessed’)
- Richard Sherr
Part of the Sanctus after the first Hosanna, consisting of the sentence ‘Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini’ followed by a repeat of the Hosanna. It is an adaptation of a quotation from Matthew xxi.9: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’ which is itself an adaptation of Psalm cxviii.26. It is found in the Roman liturgy from the 7th century, and may have been added to the Roman Sanctus, together with the two Hosannas, through Gallican influence. It was also sung in various oriental rites and is attested in the Jewish Pesaḥ (Passover) ritual.
In the Roman Mass, the Benedictus was until recently separated from the Sanctus by the consecration (a procedure outlined in the Caeremoniale episcoporum of 1600). According to Jungmann (Missarum sollemnia, ii, 137) this was ‘obviously an attempt to accommodate to the canon a polyphonic style of song wherein the richer melody of the Sanctus … stretches out to the consecration, while the Benedictus, along with the second Hosanna, fills out the rest of the canon’. Wagner and others also attributed the practice to the influence of polyphony, and certainly the Benedictus has usually appeared as a separate section in polyphonic masses since the Middle Ages. (...